If you asked me how many protein and/or energy bars I’ve tried, I’d be at a loss. Builder, Luna, Kind, Power Crunch, Lära, Zing, Pro Bar, Amazing Grass, pure, and plenty of others that I can’t remember. There was a period of time where I would find myself at the checkout with 3-5 different brands and flavors. Occasionally, I could almost see the cashier’s confusion in bubble thought form above her head. “Can’t this chick make up her mind?” And no, I couldn’t. I never found one that won me over 100%.
Then we made our own. Each bite starts with a chewy brownie crust, followed by a thick, creamy, peanut-butter-flavored layer. The light chocolate drizzle and sprinkle of hemp seeds adds a hint of sweetness and a crackling finale to the bars. At 16 grams of protein each, you can consider me a repeat customer.
Two bowls, a food processor, and a parchment-lined baking pan are the only necessities for this recipe. With just a few, fool-proof steps, these come together in under 20 minutes. Chill them for an hour and you’ve got snacks for at least a week’s time.
I admit, I have a soft spot for homemade granola bars, but these serve another set of needs. Where our granola bars are sweet, fruity, and light, these are hearty, filling, and indulgent [and guilt-free, to boot].
I’m a huge fan of simple recipes, especially when they’re inexpensive. If you have all of the ingredients on hand, this batch of protein bars rounds out at $1-$1.25 per bar [depending on where you live]. Considering the average protein bar costs $2.50, these are a bargain. And when you factor in the cost of all the questionable, mystery ingredients in most store-bought brands, you’re ahead of the game with these homemade bars.
We like to make ours in an 8×8 baking sheet lined with parchment. That way, after they’re chilled for a bit, the whole slab can easily be lifted out of the pan and cut into bars, squares, bites, or whatever you happen to be craving. I love to portion them into bite-sized bits that I can grab whenever I have a chocolate and/or peanut butter craving.
Throw one of these into a bag for a midday pick-me-up or a post-workout refuel – unless it’s a super hot day, there’s no need to keep these chilled. For day to day storage, I recommend keeping them in the refrigerator to keep them fresher, longer. I love that, unlike a lot of homemade protein bars, these don’t melt as soon as you take them out of the fridge. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
We’ve got 6 bars left right now. Along with the leftovers of two other recipes, they’re relaxing in the refrigerator, seducing us every time we open the door. Sure, we just gorged ourselves on a shameful amount of pan-roasted brussels sprouts, but is that going to stop us from enjoying a chocolate-laced, protein-packed, peanut-buttery, post-dinner treat? Nope.
- 1½ c. gluten-free oat flour
- 6 dried apricots
- ¼ c. cocoa powder
- ¼ c. brown rice syrup
- 1 c. gluten-free oat flour
- ½ c. gluten-free rolled oats
- ½ c. vegan chocolate protein powder [we use Garden of Life RAW]
- ¼ tsp. sea salt
- 1½ tbsp. chia seeds
- 1½ tbsp. hulled hemp seeds
- ½ c. peanut butter or almond butter
- 1 flax egg [1 tbsp. ground flax + 3 tbsp water, mixed together in a small bowl]
- ¼ c. agave or raw honey
- ½ c. + 2 tbsp. coconut milk [from the carton, not can]
- Topping [optional]:
- ⅓ c. vegan chocolate chips
- +/- 1 tbsp. hemp seeds
- Combine ingredients for crust in the food processor until a crumbly, thick dough forms. Dump into a bowl and set aside for later.
- In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients for the next layer. Use a fork to mix well.
- Combine flax and water in a small bowl, stir, and set aside for a few minutes until it starts to gel.
- Add agave or honey, peanut butter, coconut milk, and flax egg to the dry ingredients. Mix roughly using the fork, then add mixture to the food processor.
- Blend until the mixture is smooth – adding more coconut milk if it is too dry. It should be thick and sticky when you're finished.
- Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment. Dump crust into the pan and press it out as evenly as possible. It helps to use a miniature rolling pin or the bottom of a drinking glass!
- Dump the next layer on top the smoothed crust and spread it out. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty – this recipe calls for it!
- Set the pan into the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- If desired, make the chocolate drizzle while the bars chill. Melt ⅓ c. vegan chocolate chips in a double boiler.
- Lightly drizzle the chocolate across the bars and sprinkle hemp seeds over the top.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.